In New Hampshire since 2013 there has been a drastic increase in confirmed cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). After four years of federal funding cuts toward prevention and treatment services for STDs, the data is showing us that there has been a sharp increase in cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis both nationally and here in New Hampshire. Nationally, cases of gonorrhea have increased 67 percent, and syphilis cases have increased 76 percent, both between 2013 and 2017.
According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, gonorrhea and syphilis have increased so much that they have reached outbreak status, while chlamydia cases continue to climb. Often, these infections do not show symptoms, which is why it’s critical that patients are able to get tested annually, at least. The effects of these conditions can be serious, especially if they’re not treated quickly.
For women, untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to infertility. Syphilis can spread from the mother to the fetus, which can lead to birth defects and stillbirth. While HIV/AIDs diagnoses have remained stable over the past 5 years in New Hampshire, it remains critical for people to have access to regular testing both so that they can be aware of their options, and not pass the disease to a sexual partner.
To ensure the health of New Hampshire communities we must appropriately fund STD prevention services. We can see when our roads need work or our buildings are deteriorating, but in everyday life it is easy to overlook the consequences of not properly funding public health care services. But numbers do not lie, and the numbers are telling us that there is an unmet need in our community. Without the funding for prevention and treatment services, this need will continue to be unmet and unaddressed, but it will not go away.